(WKBN) – When someone experiences a traumatic event, it can change the way they feel and act. There are resources available to help people through those situations. WKBN Community Affairs Director Dee Crawford goes in-depth again tonight about young people and trauma.
It is a multilayered, multifaceted issue in identifying trauma. Each of us has experienced some form of trauma, and we’re focusing on addressing it with our youth so that they have the skills — whether it’s going back to school, going into a job or position — to have the tools that they can better address the trauma.
Valerie Burney, Community Engagement and Outreach Coordinator for Mental Health for the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board, discusses why this was identified as a need that must be addressed.
“We know that in Youngstown, in particular, that we’ve had a lot of trauma… These kids, you know, may have lost an individual family member or a friend to trauma… When I address youth, and I remember the very first time, you know, we had a group of youths. We do leadership conferences and camps and we took them away and we made sure that they were aware of the services. It was kind of an eye opener that they can understand. They’re not alone in that there is help available. So when I’m able to do that, it helps them to understand that I can attach myself to the help and not be ashamed or not be afraid to get the help that they need,” Burney said.
When our youth are involved or their family is impacted by trauma, it’s not as though they’re going to call and say, “I need an appointment.” So, how does mental health respond to that situation?
“Well, what we do, especially when I’m aware of a situation or when I’m in the community, you know — yesterday I was at will, Sunday I was at an event and the family member had lost two members of their family to suicide so he didn’t know what was available to him. So we make sure that, OK, we have crisis text line cards. We have, there’s now [eight.] So that’s how individuals can connect to, you know, if there is suicidal ideation, if there is a mental health crisis, that there is substance abuse, we make sure that people know you have help and we want you to get the help that you know is available to you. So making sure people are just aware, that’s my job. When I can do that, it makes me feel like, OK, we’re making steps and we’re making strides, that people are aware that there is help available to them,” Burney said.
Is there a definition for trauma that the layperson could say? Maybe someone who’s experiencing a specific type of behavior, whether it’s reacting, acting out or lack of communication. Is there something that you could look and identify as trauma or a traumatized individual?
“Sometimes it’s easy to identify, and if you know that person’s history, it’s easier to identify why. But a lot of times, individuals are not aware that I have experienced trauma, and a lot of times they hide it or press it and then it comes out. It could be, ‘I’m tired all the time.’ There’s fatigue. There’s the range of emotions that individuals go through, but if you see that that person is changing, their moods are changing, they may have experienced trauma, but they never addressed it. Now it comes out as if they experience as a child. It may be coming out as an adult and it’s affecting their behaviors. It’s affecting the choices that they make,” Burney said.
So, there are things people can look for.